Learn how to date like Jane Austen

Catch the Lantern's "Emma," running through Oct. 27. Credit: Mark Garvin
Catch the Lantern’s “Emma,” running through Oct. 27. Credit: Mark Garvin

The weekend will be a dream come true for local Janeites (read: exuberant fans of Jane Austen), as the Lantern Theater Company’s Jane Austen Festival swings into full promenade. The fest includes Michael Bloom’s adaption of “Emma,” running all month, along with the wine tastings, English country dance lessons and tea ritual demonstrations happening Oct. 11-15.

On Saturday, local Janeite extraordinaire Margaret C. Sullivan, author of “The Jane Austen Handbook,” will lead a discussion on etiquette and manners in the early 19th century.

We asked Sullivan about Victorian era dating — a complicated endeavor, as it turns out.

How would you ask someone on a date in Jane Austen’s England?

Well, they didn’t have dates per se. They would go to public and private balls. Anyone could buy a ticket to a public ball. People who were more upper class – or thought they were – would avoid the public ones.

So, you would ask someone to a ball, not on a date?

No. You wouldn’t ask them to go with you. You went on your own, basically, in order to find someone to eventually marry.

And how did you let this person know you were interested?

If you were a man, you would ask them to dance. If you asked her twice, everyone knew you were interested. If you asked her a third time, she and her family would likely expect a marriage proposal.

When could you be alone with her?

Once you were engaged.

Even just to talk?


That seems rather impractical.

But extremely practical for the period, because you couldn’t prove that you only talked without a witness, and that might be enough for someone to question what happened. The stakes were just so high, especially for the women. Virginity was so highly prized that even an untoward rumor could cause a woman to be considered damaged goods.


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.


Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.


Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.


Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.


How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.